Our family moved into our new house in Madrid, Spain, about three weeks ago. We are slowly adjusting to a new house, a new city, and a new country all at the same time. It feels like we are living ghosts existing in a space between a new reality and our previous lives. While we miss the comforts of our old house and the familiarity of our old neighborhood, we are slowly adjusting to our new lives here. I would be lying if I said it was easy…we are so far from our comfort zone that it’s sometimes disorienting! However, little by little, we are getting into the groove of our daily lives. Here are 7 tips for settling into your new home that I recommend for military families based on our many PCS moves!
7 tips for settling into your new home:
- Explore your new city.
- Create a daily routine.
- Create a travel bucket list.
- Get to know your neighborhood.
- Set up essential services quickly.
- Be patient.
- Celebrate the little wins.
Explore your new city
Moving overseas is A LOT different than moving to another state. EVERYTHING is different: the language, the fashion, the food. And while it’s exciting, it can also be overwhelming. As soon as we got here, we walked around Madrid, saw some of the cultural sites, tasted the local food, and got to know the local vibe. Although our neighborhood is more on the outskirts of this city, walking around the busier area really helped us to get a feel for our new city and all that it has to offer. Plus, the kids had their Spanish language lesson in learning the Metro and trying to read the menu!
New Sites to See
Walking around our new city
Create a daily routine
Another great tip for settling into your new house is establishing a daily routine as soon as possible. I will be honest; this is still a work in progress for us! JETLAG was way more intense than we expected it to be. It’s said that for every hour of time change, you have to give yourself one day, and that was really the truth for us. So here we are three weeks later, and we are finally feeling like we have our routine going. I am getting back to my peaceful morning routine and adding in exercise. We’re going to bed at a more regular time and trying to get up and going in the morning. We still have a few weeks until the kids start school, so I’m not being too strict about it yet, but having a routine is helpful in getting settled into our new house.
Create a travel bucket list
Moving OCONUS is exciting, and the opportunity for travel is incredible. Each of our kids has made their own bucket list of places they want to go. Having this as something to look forward to makes the changes a little easier, while so many things are hard. Even if you are not in an exotic location, check out places nearby and make a list of things that you would like to go and do while you are stationed there. If you want some great printable bucket lists, check out these pre-made ones from MilMomAdventures.
Get to know your neighborhood
We shipped our car here, so while we have been waiting for it to arrive, we have been walking…everywhere. And while we have found it’s pretty easy to get around, it is August, and temperatures in Madrid are hot! I know my friends in Texas and Tampa will roll their eyes at this heat, but I will argue that this heat is comparable. However, the mornings are glorious, and my husband and I have been taking the opportunity to find new walking routes and get to know our neighborhood. We’ve found all sorts of little gems (Aldi! McDonald’s!), and we’ve met our neighborhood security guard (pictured below).
Set up essential services as quickly as possible
So this one may be easier said than done, but get your services turned on as soon as possible. We have three teenagers (well, one is technically a pre-teen, but hormones abound, so she counts), and getting the internet was the highest item on our priority list. Funny story (that’s not that funny): within two days of being here, the kids had used all of our data for our international plan by streaming movies, social media, and talking with friends! WHAT???!!!!! I didn’t even realize they were doing that, but alas, all our data was POOF! Gone. Needless to say, we needed WIFI stat! Luckily, we got it set up as quickly as possible even though it was torturous for the one week without internet!!! So one piece of advice for everyone’s sanity is to get all of your services (internet, phone, electric, trash, etc,) going as soon as possible!
This military life is not easy. Take a moment and breathe. It’s not easy for any of us. There’s a lot of cheerleading in the military community about staying positive and making the best of it. But sometimes, IT’S JUST HARD. There’s no embroidered pillow or cutesy saying for when your big kids are sad. There’s no award or challenge coin for the days when you really miss your friends and your old routines. In reality, it’s grief. You are grieving your old community and your old normal. Your kids are grieving the loss of their friends and the loss of their activities or schools. Your spouse is grieving their identity in their old job. The whole family is grieving, and it’s profound. But now, with 10 PCS moves under my belt, I know that with time it will get better. So hold your babies when they cry- those are real tears. Allow yourself to be sad and grieve what you left behind- those feelings are real and valid. It’s completely and totally normal. And if the feelings are overwhelming, please reach out. Believe me, your friends miss you, too, no matter how wonderful everything looks on social media. And if you want to drop me a line, I will listen. I’ve been there, I’m here now, and it’s hard. Give it time. It will get better.
Celebrate the little wins
While it definitely takes time to settle into a new area, make sure to celebrate the small wins! “I figured out the metro!” “I made a phone call all in Spanish!” “I got to my destination without having to use my phone!” “WE FOUND COSTCO!” While all of these things might seem small when you are in your comfort zone, they are all huge wins when you are in a new place. Call a friend or family who will give you a big “WAHOO!” or pick up an extra pack of galletas (Spanish for cookies) from the Mercado. You deserve it!
Who knew? They have a Costco in Spain!
So we’re making the best of it. We have no car, so we must figure out the metro, the bus, and Uber. Thank goodness we have Wi-Fi, or there might have been a pre-teen/teenager mutiny at hand. We’re figuring out the new grocery store and the new clothing stores. Appliances are different, as are door handles, closets, and even the keys. It’s exciting but overwhelming at the same time. Day by day, this will start to feel like OUR house and OUR neighborhood, but I know that will take some time. Hopefully, these 7 tips will help you to settle into your new house and help you start to make it feel like home. What are some things that you have done to help settle in quickly?
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